Myocardial aging: Antioxidant enzyme systems and related biochemical properties

L. L. Ji, D. Dillon, E. Wu

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The effects of aging on myocardial antioxidant enzyme activity, lipid peroxidation, and other related biochemical properties were investigated in male Wistar-Furth rats at 4, 26, and 31 mo of age at rest and after an acute exercise bout. The results showed that resting heart cytosolic superoxide dismutase (CuZn SOD) activity was significantly decreased in the heart with aging (66 ± 6.5 U/mg protein at 4 mo vs. 49 ± 3.8 U/mg protein at 31 mo) and was elevated in all age groups after exercise. Mitochondrial Mn SOD activity was almost doubled in both 26- and 31-mo-old rats compared with that at 4 mo. Myocardial catalase and cytosolic glutathione peroxidase (GPX) activities were significantly decreased with age, whereas mitochondrial GPX was 29% higher (P < 0.05) in 31- than 4-mo-old rats. Glutathione S-transferase activity in the heart also declined with age (P < 0.05 at 31 mo). Malondialdehyde contents in both heart homogenate and mitochondria were significantly increased at old age. Activity of several enzymes related to myocardial energy production, e.g., citrate synthase, malate dehydrogenase, and lactate dehydrogenase, as well as myocardial protein content showed an age-related decline. These data indicate that myocardial antioxidant capacity is weakened during aging and that the compensatory increases of mitochondrial SOD and GPX may be an important mechanism in coping with free radical damage in senescent heart. Findings in the present investigation seem to support the free radical theory of aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R386-R392
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number2 30-2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991


  • Exercise
  • Lipid peroxidation
  • Myocardium


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